What is it?
A Stitch in Time is a new campaign launched by four children’s charities that calls on all political parties to commit to an early-action approach to public services for children, young people and families. The main message of the campaign, which is a joint effort of Action for Children, Barnardo's, the Children’s Society and the NSPCC, is that addressing a problem when it first begins is more beneficial and less costly than dealing with the knock-on effects later. According to Jonathan Rallings, assistant director of strategy at Barnardo’s, the aim is to "help families solve problems before they develop into full-blown crises".
The charities have set up a website that makes the case for early intervention using evidence and case studies. A downloadable PDF contains more detailed information. The website features an animated video that tells the story of a young boy who was struggling at school, but who received help from a counsellor and managed to get back on track. The headline figure of the campaign, featured in the video, is that it costs £2,700 to teach a child to read but £50,000 to support an adult who can’t.
The website allows people to send an automated email to MPs and opposition candidates in their area, asking them to commit to an early action approach to children’s services. There are ready-made tweets about the campaign that supporters can send, as well as images sized for both Facebook and Twitter that feature relevant facts and figures.
The campaign is being endorsed by more than 20 other charities, which has contributed to its reach on social media.
As with many charity campaigns at the moment, A Stitch in Time capitalises on the proximity of the general election to encourage politicians to make a commitment on a particular policy issue. Rallings says: "We want to encourage decision-makers and government to focus spending on early intervention. We need them to include prevention and early support in their vision as opposed to later involvement with families who are having problems. After the election, we want to have a government that is building on the progress that early support has made these past five years."
Third Sector verdict
At a crowded time for charity campaigns, it is good to see four organisations working together to make sure their message is heard, rather than embarking on separate efforts that would have less of an impact. The campaign covers all bases with a video, an email call to action and social media activity, but has a single, clear message that is backed up with memorable figures and solid evidence.